We’ll never insist enough on the ability to think critically. This is crucial to navigate a world full of false promises and ever-shifting benchmarks. To say nothing of politicians who make a name for themselves calling anything they don’t like “fake”. Or reality TV that’s anything but.

People need to learn more philosophy, especially young people. History, too. Oh man, do they need history. (I highly recommend John Green’s Crash Courses, particularly the “World History” series. Guaranteed to amuse and educate even the most recalcitrant youngster.) How else would they understand that not everything that’s happening to them personally is as new and exciting as they think? That we’ve been here before? And it wasn’t that awesome the first 6,000 times so why would this be different?

People also need to get used to having their opinions challenged. That’s true at any age, but the younger the better because as everyone knows our brains calcify with time and it becomes harder to change our minds about anything, especially stuff that doesn’t matter as much as finding a cure for cancer or, you know, exploring Mars or something. Boy do we get cranky and sore about those little things when we’re forced to adapt to new circumstances. Ever tried to make your dad switch to a different shaving cream? Yeah. I live in a building full of reasonably successful people (by which I mean, the rent ain’t cheap) and it’s a struggle to get people to separate their trash from their recycling despite the signs that explain it all and bright bins conveniently located and all the rest of it including what, 20 years of experience with this recycling thing? They still throw trash in the blue bin, styrofoam in the paper recycling and milk cartons in the trash, because they can’t be bothered to change this one tiny habit no matter how much they get nagged.

Me, I still haven’t gotten over Starbucks discontinuing the Chantico liquid chocolate… back in 2006 I think it was. Such a tragic mistake, that. And no, I won’t shut up about it. It was like drinking a molten cake. Why would they cancel such a lovely experience? Why Why WHY?

Where was I. Oh yes. We need to be able to change our minds often. Mental agility is essential to the good life. Even if you end up back in your original position, the exercise of endeavouring to be flexible about things will benefit you muchly. So try different things. Experiment with abandon. Except don’t put cinnamon in your coffee. That’s gross.

Getting used to having your opinions challenged is the best way to learn how to tell right from wrong and how effectively to stand up for the former against the latter. I would call that a skill worth having.